All posts by reneeinnd


I have live in western North Dakota since 1987, and I still can’t get over how dusty it is here.

I like to dust using an attachment on the vacuum hose, but sometimes just use a Swiffer duster thingy. It is so dusty here that a week after dusting, I can write my name in the thick dust on the furniture surfaces. We have new windows and siding on the house. I change the furnace filters frequently, but there is no stopping the dust. It seems to be worse in our bedroom, for some reason. I am beginning to wonder if I need to vacuum all the walls and ceilings, too.

My mother had high standards for cleaning and really hated dust. One of her rules for cleaning was to always make the beds before you dusted, because shaking out the bed clothes would “raise the dust”. Next you vacuumed and then you dust. She would be very frustrated with the dust situation in our home. It just seems like a losing battle. Not dusting really isn’t an option, though.

What are some family maxims that you remember? How do you keep down the dust? What are your least favorite cleaning tasks.?

I Saved The Day

Saturday was blustery and rainy here, a good day to stay home and clean and cook. I made some Tuscan white bean and chard soup, and Husband made goat leg in the tagine.

We stream MPR classical when we are home. About 3:00 the music went silent. We had lost wifi and the Internet, and our land line phone went dead. I waited about 20 minutes for it to go back on, and then phoned the local phone company that provides our cable, land line, and Internet. First I talked with an Internet guy who transferred me to a phone woman. I guess phone service takes priority over Internet service and he thought I would get better results talking to the phone person. She had me unplug and then restart the modem that controls all the services, but that didn’t help. She then transferred me to a very nice man named Leonard, who said we probably needed a new modem, and that he would get in his truck and come right over to replace it.

All the support folks I spoke with said there were no reports of service interruptions in my neighborhood. We waited for Leonard for more than an hour when he finally phoned and said that something on top of a utility pole at the end of our street had melted, and that he and another guy were fixing it. All their custmers in our neighborhood had lost their service and I was the only one who phoned to report it. Husband took the dog for a walk and saw Leonard and his coworker up the pole fixing whatever it was that melted. By 6:30, everything was working again.

I am waiting for the neighbors to hold a parade in my honor for saving the day. I also am impressed with the local phone company for sending out service technicians on rainy Saturday afternoons.

What are some positive and/or interesting customer service experiences you have had? Have you ever saved the day?

What’s My Logo?

I am the chairperson of the regulatory and licensing board for psychologists in my state. We are all appointed by the governor. They are entirely volunteer positions. We receive no remuneration for our services. The Board is self funded by fees our licensees pay, and those fees mainly go toward secretarial and legal services. There are only seven of us on our Board, as well as a secretary from an agency we contract for services. I am proud of the work we do protecting the public and efficiently licensing providers in our state.

Our Board must abide by State procurement rules for acquiring goods and services. Because of my role as chairperson, I get all the emails from the Office of Management and Budget Procurement Office that the head of every State agency receives. I was tickled last week to get an unintentionally funny email from the Procurement Office asking if we were interested in purchasing clothing for our agency that had our logo on it. If we were, the Procurement Office would send us a list of vendors who could provide the clothing and logos at State approved rates. They suggested we set up a room where employees/members could go to purchase the clothing. I should mention that we don’t have a logo.

Husband thought we should order berets. (He is the Board complaint investigator by virtue of being married to me, and the Board not having anyone else who would do it pro bono. ) I thought mortar boards would be fun. I also thought our logo could be a brain with lightening bolts coming out it. As there are so few of us, though, it probably wouldn’t be cost effective to put in an order.

Did you ever wear special clothing for your workplace? What do you want your logo to be?

Wild Horses

I live about 40 miles from Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It is situated in the North Dakota Badlands. Teddy had a ranch there, and there still are lots of ranches that surround the park. It is home to bison, coyotes, deer, mountain lions, pronghorn, prairie dogs, and big horn sheep. And horses.

For decades before the park was formally established in 1947, ranchers would turn out horses on the open range to live and breed, and just round up horses when they needed them. That ended after the park was fenced in 1954. After the fences went up, horses remained in the park, overbreeding. Every few years the Park Service would round up what horses they could and sell them at auction. They even tried horse contraception to reduce the herds.

The Park Service decided recently to change policy and remove all non-native animal species from the park, specifically the horses. This led to a very emotional reaction from locals who have a very romantic notion of the horses and believe they should stay. The Legislature passed a bill to maintain livestock in the park. It is ultimately up to the Secretary of the Interior to decide what happens next.

What is your favorite National Park? Would wild horses be a draw for you? What animals do you get emotional about?

Hard Facts

Today’s Farm Report comes from Ben.

Have you heard the phrase “If you want something done, ask a busy person”. That’s been in my head lately. I heard it a long time ago and I think it’s true. The reasoning behind that must be that a busy person will fit something else into their schedule. Good time management I guess… when it matters anyway, maybe not so much when it doesn’t (as evidenced by how much time I spend watching YouTube.)

I found out on Monday, that the two slabs of concrete I am expecting this summer, the indoor slab will be coming Friday. Uh…. Crap! I mean GREAT! I spent Tuesday moving machinery out of the shed. I pulled out the fertilizer wagon and that will have to sit outside for a while. I condensed the 5 boxes of crap my dad put in the shed when they moved out of their house, into one small tote worth saving and the rest went to metal recycling or garbage. Sorry Dad. I put some pallets out and sorted lumber into nice piles, and I moved some down to the barn where there’s another pile of 6×6 posts and left over Trex Decking.

I moved all the machinery out, moved the two smaller tractors out, moved the lawn mowers out, moved the 100 gallon oil totes, then started replacing machinery in such a way I can still get to the seed wagon, and have room for the corn planter and soybean drill and still be able to get them out, while keeping the North end of the shed clear and open.

There was a lot of smaller stuff to move yet. Wednesday I moved Ladders, storage racks, jacks, wood blocks, the old oil barrel stand, and cut 4’ off the end of the work bench.

FYI, I have a LOT of wood blocks.

It’s always surprising to me how many wood blocks I have. They are one of those things you just never know which one you’ll need, or how many of what size, so we have lots. It might be out in the field and the ground is soft, so I need multiple long blocks to make a base, then a few to support the jacks. It might be blocks to support four corners of a wagon box while I change the running gear under it. Sometimes that’s a 6×6, sometimes it’s a 4×4, and sometimes it’s just a 2×4 to block a tire. It’s crazy that I have this many blocks. Perhaps I won’t put them all back. Bet I will.

As the day went on, I found myself spending more time sitting in the tractor, ‘thinking’,  when I moved to the next job…I’d sit there for several minute before I could get myself out and moving.

Keith, the man who was Best Man at our wedding in 1990, stopped to visit. He lives out in Stamford New York now, but had a business meeting in Minneapolis, so he spent an extra day and came down. We hadn’t seen each other since about 1995. It was really nice to see him. And he helped me move some of that extra stuff.

Circa about 1990 and 2023.

As the day went on, there was less ‘sorting and stacking’ and more just tossing it out of the way. Like any home remodeling project, I won’t be able to find what I want for the next month…

There’s been a pheasant strutting through the yard like he owns the place. The dogs lie behind my car and watch him. We hear a lot of pheasants calling not too far away. They don’t come out for corn anymore like they do in winter. And I’ve seen some out in the fields that don’t seem to be too scared of me or the tractor. But this one in the yard, he’s strutting his stuff and he doesn’t seem to care who sees him.

Saw a couple Sandhill Cranes in a field. Saw the Northern Lights on Sunday night. Happen to look down between the back door and the deck and discovered 30 or 40 chicken eggs.

Shoot. Someone is gonna have to shimmy under there and get them. Come July, I don’t see this being a good situation. I blocked the hole on the side of the deck that I suspect is where the chicken(s) was getting in. Maybe that also explains why Bailey hasn’t eaten her food in 3 days and I found an eggshell in the front yard.

I got the road graded using all three hydraulic options on the blade and it was very nice. Tilt, angle, shift. I cut down the edges so rain water will run off the road, pulled in gravel from the winter, and I unintentionally pulled in a lot of dirt too. Left it all on the edge of the road to settle for a few weeks, then will grade it all back onto the road.

One of my former work study students from the college stopped to visit with her 2.5 month old baby girl. That was a nice visit. And Krista made the egg run and it was good to see her.

Last of the college shows this weekend. Music concert at the college next Thursday with Choir, Band, World Drum Ensemble, and a new Chamber Group. And then it’s onto Commencement. I’ve been coordinating, scheduling, and doing paperwork for that. We’ll hang a few lights next week before the stage is placed.

I don’t know about farming this week or next. We shall see what we shall see.

Doing some local straw deliveries too.

One day at a time, one day at a time.



Alternate Routes

Our town has about 25,000 people. Compared with a larger metropolitan area, there isn’t that much traffic. When he isn’t working at the Human Service Center in Bismarck, Husband “hotels” in an office at the Human Service Center in our town where I work and works there. We both take different routes to work for the silliest reasons.

Our drive to work takes 10 minutes. In the summer and fall, husband likes the eastern route that takes him over the butte near our home and through a residential area, and approaches our work building from the back. He likes that route because there is less traffic and he can see the gardens by the houses he drives past. He doesn’t like the route in the spring and winter because it can get icy driving up and down the butte.

I like a southern route that takes me past a house where two standard schnauzers live. I love to catch glimpses of those magnificent dogs. I often see them jumping in fruitless attempts to catch the squirrels teasing them in the tree branches just above their heads. The route takes me to the main commercial street in town that eventually runs right past our work building. The only problem with my route is that I have an unprotected left turn to get onto the commercial street.

I am an impatient person. Our town is too small to have very many traffic lights and four way stops. I suppose I have to wait, at a maximum, two minutes before the way is clear for me to turn left. I just hate having to wait for that. Sometimes when I am in a very impatient mood I turn left on a residential street a block before the commercial street. That takes me to another major street where I can make a right turn, and then a left turn with a light, onto the commercial street. Again, it takes me 10 minutes to get to work, no matter what route I take. This is so silly. I am lucky I don’t drive in a big city all the time.

Do you ever take alternate routes for silly reasons? How do you feel about unprotected left turns?

Let’s have a Party

One of my coworkers, after leaving our agency as a secretary, decided to start selling Tupperware. I am a little concerned about her, as I see that Tupperware is probably going bankrupt.

I have had several coworkers who discovered things they liked at various parties specific to selling a certain product, and decided to become sellers themselves just to get the things at a discount. I have been to Longaberger Basket parties and Pampered Chef parties put on by coworkers. I bought a few things, but it wasn’t long before my friends stopped selling these things. I was really surprised to find out this week that a fellow psychologist at another State agency sells Pampered Chef products. She is very subtle about it.

I think there are still Avon representatives in our area. I see that Avon had worldwide sales of $9.1 billion in 2020. My father sold vitamins for a while after he wanted to get the large amounts of Vitamin E he took at wholesale prices. He was convinced Vitamin E kept him from needing cardiac bypass surgery when he was in his late 40’s. He eventually needed the surgery in his 70’s, but still kept selling vitamins.

Know anyone who sold Tupperware or Avon? What sales parties have you attended? Do you take vitamins or dietary supplements?

Classical Ads

I was at home on sick leave yesterday and had ample time to lie on the sofa and listen to MPR. I was tickled to hear the Oscar Mayer Weiner song played on Performance Today. The announcer commented that the Oscar Mayer song catapulted the company into national prominence.

The link between advertising and classical music was fascinating. There were apparently two competing harp manufacturers in France in the early 1900’s. Debussy was commissioned by one, the Pleyel company, Ravel by the other, the Erard company, to compose pieces for harp that the companies could lay claim to and use to promote their harps. Both pieces are favorites of mine.

Neither company manufactures harps any longer, but the musical pieces remain. I wonder how long Oscar Mayer will make wieners?

What is your favorite brand of wiener? What are your favorite and least favorite advertising jingles? Know any harpists?

Spring Cleaning

Our town is looking a little worse for wear now that all the snow has melted. The streets are coated with sand from the sand trucks. Litter is flying around catching in the shrubs that haven’t yet set leaves. I see lots af dog owners cleaning up you know what in their back yards. Husband cleaned off his grills and grilling area, trimmed the False Indigo, and bagged up leaves and raspberry canes that we intended to bag up last fall but didn’t get to it until it was covered with snow.

I had what my children would call a Dutch fit on Saturday. Friends of ours were due to stop in for a visit in the afternoon on their way back from Pine Ridge. They had gone there to start the cleaning and set up at the Sun Dance grounds. The Sun Dance isn’t until July, but I guess there is rather a lot of things to do to have all the sweat lodges cleaned and the food and dancing and camping areas ready in time. Spring cleaning happens on Pine Ridge, too.

I realized that our home wasn’t fit for company after a long winter with a busy dog. We started cleaning as soon as we got up Saturday morning. We dusted, washed floors and a few windows, cleaned bathrooms, and vacuumed. I also made two pies, a peach and sour cherry pie and a French Canadian pork pie to serve our guests. Husband was somewhat disgruntled and said that this was one of those occasions where could hurt himself trying to keep up with me. The dog was very excited by the activity level and ran around us as we cleaned. When our friends arrived the kitchen was spotless, all the dishes were put away, and there was no dust anywhere, not even between the slats on the Stickley dining room chairs. Husband worked hard on those. We had a lovely visit.

Not long after our friends left, the cold I had been fighting all week hit me hard, and I spent all day Sunday inert on the sofa. At least the house is clean.

What do you do for spring cleaning? How is your community looking like after this tough winter. What are your favorite spring flowers?

and sand

Another Week

Today’s farming update post is from Ben.

This week was all about theater. The College show, ‘Boy Gets Girl’ by Rebecca Gilman, opened Thursday night

‘Spring Awakening’ by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik, opened at the Rep theater Friday

Boy, two shows at once. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that before, and I knew it wasn’t a good idea when I said I’d do it. But musicals are so much fun to light! And this show, ‘Spring Awakening’ is a rock musical, and with this director, it wasn’t something I wanted to pass up. Flashing lights spinning and changing color, plus haze in the air! We call it ‘Flash and Trash’.

Plus, it’s springtime and yeah, I had my hands full. One day at a time is how to manage that.

I was running on adrenaline a few days. I knew I could sleep in Wednesday morning and that was what kept me going Tuesday after programming lights until 1:30 AM Tuesday morning.

I sure am glad I got oats planted last Thursday and Friday. Saturday, I spent most of the day outside doing random stuff. Drove to Plainview and picked up the grapple I got from the auction.

Got the drag out and got the oat fields dragged. It’s a way to smooth them out, fill in the marks from the drill, and prevent erosion until the fields get established. (At least, barring heavy downpours).

The coop that does all my fertilizer and spraying, sent out a letter this spring that employees are hard to find, and in order to try attracting more, they’re going to be closed a few Sundays. Mother’s Day, Easter, and some other dates.

Times change. When I was growing up, we didn’t very often ‘farm’ on Sundays. We still had to milk and do chores, but nothing more than that. In fact, they used to say, ‘Farm on Sunday, fix on Monday’. I’ll bet Clyde has something to say on that.

Lots of guys farm every day they can because they have so many acres they have to get done, or as in my case, it’s one of the only free days I have, and we hope for good weather. I don’t often have to fix on Monday, it’s just not the rule it used to be. I guess that higher deity understands. I suppose those bigger guys are doing a lot themselves so the coop being closed a random Sunday might not be a problem. I’ll work around it. Don’t really have a choice. And I don’t really blame them; not many people willing to work seven days a week even if it’s only for a couple months. We keep getting farther and farther from agricultural roots and what that all means.

This weekend, Saturday, I hope to get the hydraulic tips on the blade changed and grade the road. Pull in all the gravel that got scraped into the grass over the winter. (The township has heard about that too. Several people complained about gravel in their grass. Well. It just was this year.) Maybe I can get the hydraulic hoses hooked up for the grapple too. Sunday I’ll visit mom. I haven’t been there in a couple weeks.

We had about 4” of snow earlier this week. And the wind, wow. We had some drifts on the road. Then we had Thunderstorms and 1.5” of rain. And there’s still some snow in corners and piles. The weather is never dull. Last week I really felt behind. This week, not so much anymore.

Next on my schedule is college commencement May 10th, so will be setting up for that May 8 and 9th.

Here’s some pictures of a valley I’ve been watching. It was the first place it started to green up and the progression has been fun to watch.

March 15th, March 30, April 7th starting to green up. April 20th looking like Spring.